KWAME HOLMAN: The House Ethics Committee recommended today that Congressman Charles Rangel be publicly censured on the House floor. He will also have to make financial restitution for violating financial and fund-raising rules.
The verdict came hours after Rangel made a final appeal for mercy. The veteran New York Democrat acknowledged making mistakes, but said he wasn't corrupt.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D-NY): There was no intent for me ever to go beyond what has been given to me as a salary. I never attempted to enrich myself, and that I walk away, no matter what your decision, grateful that I have had this opportunity to serve.
KWAME HOLMAN: A public censure is the most serious punishment the House can mete out, short of expelling a member.
The House fell short today in a bid to extend benefits for the long-term unemployed beyond the holidays. The measure would have added $12.5 billion to the deficit. Republicans insisted it be paid for using funds from last year's economic stimulus bill.
The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits for the first time rose last week, but only by 2,000. And the four-week average of claims remained near its lowest point in two years. The numbers could indicate the pace of layoffs is slowing and some hiring is taking place.
Wall Street rallied on the economic data and made up some of its recent losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 173 points to close at 11181. The Nasdaq rose 38 points to close at 2514.
The markets also were helped by news that Ireland is moving closer today to accepting a bailout for its debt crisis. The head of Ireland's Central Bank predicted the government will negotiate billions of dollars in loans from European partners and the International Monetary Fund. The Irish finance minister said a proposed contingency fund for Irish banks is a desirable outcome.
President Obama insisted today that ratifying a nuclear arms treaty with Russia is imperative. The president called in former secretaries of state and defense from both parties. All of them support ratification of the new START treaty.
Mr. Obama wants Senate action before Congress goes home for the year. He said today the U.S. cannot afford to wait.
U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Every month that goes by without a treaty means that we are not able to verify what's going on the ground in Russia. And if we delay indefinitely, American leadership on nonproliferation and America's national security will be weakened.
KWAME HOLMAN: Earlier this week, Senator Jon Kyl, the Republican point man on the treaty, said he was against holding a vote this year.
Those are some of the day's major stories.